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EXCLUSIVE: Providence acquires Dr. Leroy Hood's Institute for Systems Biology

Author: Patti Payne


Renton[WA]-based Providence Health & Services, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the United States, has acquired Seattle-based Institute for Systems Biology, a nonprofit biomedical research organization co-founded by biologist Dr. Leroy Hood.

Hood will remain as president of Institute for Systems Biology, which will become a wholly owned subsidiary and separate legal entity. The organization will retain its name, will continue to set its own research agenda and oversee its daily management and operations.

Hood also becomes senior vice president and chief science officer at Providence. He will report to Providence CEO Dr. Rod Hochman and Dr. Amy Compton Phillips, chief clinical officer.

The Institute for Systems Biology will operate under Western HealthConnect, the secular nonprofit organization Providence formed to allow companies under that umbrella to provide some services that Catholic-affiliated Providence does not. The same model was used when Providence affiliated with Swedish Health Services in 2012.

Providence will add three board members to the ISB board of directors. ISB's 20 percent stake in Hood's latest venture, wellness startup Arivale, is included in the deal.

Hood, a world-renowned scientist, inventor and entrepreneur, is credited with helping to sequence the human genome, and is a world leader in consumer-driven, targeted health care.

“Lee is a rock star in the work he has done at ISB,” said Hochman, who currently presides over an employee base of 82,000 people in 34 hospitals across a five-state area.

Providence serves 9 million people a year and will soon grow in an upcoming merger with California-based St. Joseph Health to a seven-state area with 50 hospitals and the possibility of serving 22 million people a year.

“This is an exciting time for our patients,” said Hochman, “because the aim here is to transform health care to be more proactive on wellness, and to identify the earliest opportunities to reverse or even prevent disease.”

The acquisition will help Providence build its muscles when it comes to translational research and how the gap between the patient and research is bridged.

“Most important now is that we can further ground-breaking research to benefit our patients," said Hochman. "This affiliation now expands our footprint of research to enable us to bring that to our patients up and down the West Coast.”

Hood, often called the father of biotechnology, informed all of his 200 employees March 9. He said it has taken over six months to work out the details.

“This is one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve ever participated in,” Hood said. “Together we can absolutely revolutionize health care."

Hood has dreamed about renovating health care since he started ISB in 2000.

“The health industry has been virtually ignored, and with this arrangement, we’re going to start a whole new industrial sector – scientific wellness," Hood said. "The opportunities are endless.”

For now, ISB facility and its employees will remain at South Lake Union for two or three years until Providence decides where to build an expanded facility.

“The dream would be to build our own research facility to further this translational research, a place where (both Providence and ISB) research can come together, all under one hood,” Hochman said. “But for now we’ve got beautiful research space in ISB.”

The companies will remain at the South Lake Union site for two to three years until Providence decides where to move the facility.

Hood, 77, said while he does not plan to retire for a long time, the deal with Providence takes a weight off his shoulders.

“I am relieved because I know that Providence has the financial wherewithal and the financial partnership to achieve the goals we have set," Hood said. "But I plan to be around for another 15 years to make sure it’s done right."

Puget Sound Business Journal,

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